Top Brass gagged by Govt? Strap yourself down first!

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Rajaz, Jul 6, 2005.

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  1. The Spectator. Diary. Issue 2nd July 2005
    By Max Hastings

    At the weekend, one of my favourite soldiers remarked sombrely that the armed forces have been sandpapered into so small a critical mass that little needs to go wrong for things to unravel disastrously. Amazingly few people notice, however.

    When army manpower cuts were announced, the story received brief coverage even in supposedly serious papers, and principally in the context of sentiment about cap badges.

    The services now lack a political or media constituency, such as once raised hell when governments maltreated them. The new indifference suits ministers.

    General Sir Mike Jackson is the only chief of staff who is known to the public and reaches out to the media. His colleagues are more reticent.
    The last defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, decreed that senior officers should have no contact with journalists save under political supervision, and replaced uniformed service public relations officers with creatures of his own.

    Excepting Jackson, the chiefs emerge from their boxes only on terms that Peter Inge or Charles Guthrie would have rejected with contempt. The current Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Michael Walker, has chosen to survive his tenure by making himself invisible.

    I am told that one day when Walker’s appointed successor, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, lunched privately with the defence correspondents group, they were startled to see him arrive with a minder who placed a tape recorder on the table. I once invited Stirrup to lunch. He responded that he would be happy to accept, but our meeting must be on the record, with a civil servant present. I wrote back declining these terms, and suggested that it was humiliating for an officer of Stirrup’s seniority to allow himself to be exercised on a choke lead by ministers.

    To mix metaphors, if the chiefs accept purdah, they cannot be surprised that they lack clout. When service morale is low and recruitment languishing, they need to be out there articulating a vision for defence which a new generation can understand.

    We should hope for better things under the new Secretary of State, John Reid. (My emphasis, Rajaz).

    Now, I did suggest you strap yourself in.
    Get the nurse to give you a sedative.
    Have a drink.
    Calm down.

  2. WOW - humiliating in the extreme!

    What has a 5 star got worry about?

    He is never going to get any further promotion wise. He continues to serve and receive full pay and benefits until the day he dies - always on the active list, never retired.

    Its not as though saying something inadvertantly or honestly is going to get him the sack and lose him his pension pay and benefits. If ever a soldier was in a position to take a stand/swipe at the Government of the day - it is the holder of this position!

    Those Labour toaddies and Civil Servants need putting in their place - Backbone Man, get some backbone!!
  3. I understand the point Imintherapy, just for the record we dont have 5 stars any more serving in the chain of command.
  4. My only guess is that, because none of the current front bench have served for HM Forces,
    they're too scared that the Top Brass might say something they don't understand.

    Enter the "humble functionaries" to smooth things out (cover up, distort, ommit facts, etc).

    Does anyone know how many Civil Servants in the M.O.D have actually served with HM Forces?
  5. A better point would be - how many members of the current Governement have served in the Armed Forces?
  6. A even better point is how many would you want to serve along side.
  7. As trust is a major factor in our line of business - would I want to serve alongside a politician - not on your nelly! It would be nice though, if a politician had done some time wearing a green baggy suit.
  8. Blood boiling! Argh..

    They have to be chaperoned by a political puppet with no backbone? Stirrup's things is rather humiliating! :(
  9. Seem to recall that a certain Adolf Schicklegruber had a similar distrust of the professional officer class. Are we about to witness the creation of a formed body of political troops? I expect Mandy would look super in a long leather coat... 8O
  10. Do full (four star) Generals have the same perks as Field Marshals, Admirals of the Fleet etc? IIRC a FM was FM for life, with full pay and bennefits on the other hand a general "retired" onto a pension and might therefore more vulnerable to political dirty tricks.